Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Desi Werewolf

The Saas Bahu serials are quite a crowd puller here in Simla. It almost looks like people come to Simla to watch these since it is too hot in their part of their country to hold the remote without burning their hand on hot molten plastic. At least that’s the impression I get wherever I go. I saw a group of ladies from the four corners of the country sitting in a hotel lobby watching these serials. Perfect strangers but they "oohed" and "aahhed" and "sobbed" in perfect synchronization. Now that's what I call Unity in Diversity !

The storyline according to one lady who tried to explain it to me is apparently simple.

The serial mom is very angry ki beta shaadi kar ke aaya hai. Usually in Hindi movies, the maa’s will gently chide and tease their 50+ sons that she will get him a beautiful bahu (daughter in law).

Movie Ma: Beta, I will get you a beautiful bahu.
Movie Son: Oh maa * blush * I have seen a bahu for you.
Movie Ma: Sach??? (really?) I am so happy, when will I see my hone waali bahu?
Movie Son : *blush*

And our 50+ actor will then hug his mother and both will smile towards the camera waiting for the director to say "Cut".

The Serial Mom is slightly different. She brooks no nonsense from anyone. So when her son marries a girl without her consent she gets damn pissed off and swears vermillion revenge on her daughter in law (DIL). She vows to teach her DIL a lesson because her son didn’t learn one. And that is NEVER mess with a Serial Mom.

Son: Maa, I have married my child hood sweetheart
Serial Mom: * Snarl*
DIL (with chaste smile): Namaste Maaji!
Serial Mom: *Growl*

(Ad break for Head Cooling Hair Oil)

The DIL has the combined virtue of an entire convent and some monasteries put together and is as sweet as a Gulab Jamoon suffering from diabetes. She is harassed with all the tortures that the script writer can Google and gather and the Ma in Law’s script is heavily inspired from "My mother is a Werewolf".

DIL: Maaji, shall I make some tea for you?
Maa: *sneer* Your tea tastes like tap water.
Dil: Kshama keejiye maaji *sob* *sob*

(Ad break for Brooke Bond Tea)

If only the son had come home like a good boy without a woman, ma would have been so happy!

Son: Ma, Meet my life partner Pyaare Lal
Pyaare Lal (with unchaste smile):Namaste maaji !

(Ad break for Koffee with Karan)

Ma would have then rushed to her son and embraced him tears streaming down her cheek. Her son had not disobeyed her. And we would all be spared the agony of a Kyon Ki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu thee.

That's all folks.Have a nice week.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Last year on her visit to Kerala my mom picked up an unusual pet. The dogs at home were ‘foreign’ breeds unlike the mallu mongrels (the canine breed dear reader) that roam the sylvan Kerala countryside she said. So she decided that she would bring something from her native place that would remind her of home. Imagine our shock when the good lady gets down from the car and removes a cane basket from the boot. Then with a mysterious glint in her eyes she walks into the house. After looking at each other in bemusement and wondering aloud about creature she has picked up from Kerala, we hurried inside.

She was in the backyard, gingerly opening the lid of the basket. As soon as she opened the lid, there was a fluttering and squawking and out jumped an enormous ‘naadan’ Rooster. The rooster took to his heels and ran helter skelter as though exercising his legs after the long journey cramped in the economy class of the basket. The four of us i.e. Dad, my brothers couldn’t believe our eyes. Of all the creatures in the world my mom thought of a Rooster????

After our rather dramatic introduction to the rooster, we were told by his proud owner i.e. my mom that she had decided to call him Raja!!! There was pin drop silence after she dropped this bit of info. I could almost touch the wise cracks that were hanging in the air unsaid, but we wisely refrained from clever remarks till later, like when she was out of earshot. Before my Dad could say "So when will we get to taste Raja?" my mom shot down the question with a "Don’t even think about it!" After 30 years of marriage, she knew that this would be first thing that would come to his mind.

The first thing my mom learnt rather painfully was that Raja was a hot-blooded young man, much vaunt to showing off in front of the ‘ladies’ from the village nearby. So it was difficult to keep him within the four walls of our compound. He easily flew to the wall and jumped down for his trysts with the ‘ladies’. My Dad thought that Raja had great potential. He told my mom rather flippantly that if she charged a rupee for every one of his ‘trysts’ she would be a millionaire by the end of the month. The remark didn’t go down too well and further explanations are with held.

The second painful lesson my Mom learnt was that since the time she had learned English way back in the 70’s, the language had changed quite a bit. So when she asked me "Where is the cock?" she couldn’t comprehend the reaction from my brother and his friends lounging nearby. The resultant explanation given by me left her rather red faced. She never used the ‘English’ word again and stuck by the mallu word “Kozhipoovan”.

Raja was a rebel too. He would crow only when the fancy struck him or a ‘lady’ passed by. He refused to wake up the household in the morning. He didn’t quite feel that it was his style. So just when we are having evening tea, he would let out a lusty “Cock-a-doodle dooo” startling us out of our skins. Once he shook the house with his crowing at 4 am. I didn’t know till then that my Dad could curse so fluently even at such an unearthly hour.

Then came disaster in the form of Mr. Rao, who had a clutch of Leghorn layers (egg laying birds) in his yard. Mr. Rao was an organic farmer and his brood was totally bought up on organic food. Raja in all honesty felt he was a very "organic" fellow and the result was disastrous. His "organic" trysts were soon discovered by Mr. Rao, who gave an earful to my Dad in very "inorganic" language.

Soon it became apparent to my Mom that she would have to curtail the love life of The King of good times or spend the rest of her days in various lower courts. My brother thought "Tandoori Raja" would be an excellent idea in curtailment. My mother told him rather sarcastically that if "Tandoori Raja" was a sure fire cure then she wouldn’t mind trying "Tandoori Son" very soon.

Finally after much conferring with our Vet, my Mom decided to build an enclosure to keep Raja’s libido in check...err I mean Raja in check. He is right now in his brand new enclosure and not too happy about it. And if I stay here another second, his loud protest crowing and clucking will drive me nuts. I have been so ready since early morning to go to the airport for the evening flight.

See you folks next week. Take care. I am off to Simla :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

India Pak Peace Talks

India and Pakistan have been in a dialogue till now. Representatives of the two longtime adversaries, agreed to a timetable for a series of high-level meetings over the next several months. Expert opinions differ. Some are wary because of the history of animosity. Other experts, however, say that this time around might be different. The U.S. ambassador to India, told a Council on Foreign Relations meeting that he saw excellent chances for success in these talks.

The first such meeting was held in New Delhi last month.This reporter was privy to all meetings.

Foreign Secretary India: What should we have for our lunch discussion today?
Foreign Secretary Pakistan: Tangdi Kabab, Dal Makhani and Tandoori Roti?
Foreign Secretary India: Absolutely not. Lets have Masala Dosa instead.
Foreign Secretary Pakistan (aghast): Masala Dosa ??? UGH *hmph*

The first round of talks failed and the meeting was adjourned to the next month at Islamabad.

Indian Foreign Secretary: What is the menu for our dinner discussions?
Foreign Secretary Pakistan: Mutton Biryani, Lachedaar Paraatha and Sherbet
Indian Foreign Secretary: What??? No Curd Rice ?
Foreign Secretary Pakistan: er...what's Curd Rice?
Foreign Secretary India: How inconsiderate !!!*hmph*

The failure of the second round of talks was greeted with dismay by the international community .The resultant International pressure has led to the convening of a Ministerial level meeting in Simla.

Indian Minister: Welcome brother. We have arranged an excellent Mujra by Miss Masala after our Dinner talks.
Pakistani Minister( sulking): I want Aishwarya Rai to do the mujra.
Indian Minister: Well...our budget would not permit that.
Pakistani Minister: Then I am not talking to you. *hmph*

It was clear after the Ministerial level talks that there were irrevocable differences between the two countries and it has been decided that both Foreign Ministers would meet in Rawalpindi next.

Pakistani Minister: Salaam Alekum, we are honored by your presence here. What would you like to drink?
Indian Minister: Bhaang!!
Pakistani Minister: I am afraid we do not have Bhaang. I have Blue Label Whiskey specially ordered for you.
Indian Minister: You dont' have Bhaang?? Then I am not talking to you. *hmph*

According to inside sources, the high level discussions collapsed after India insisted that Pakistan stop supporting terrorists in Kashmir, and Pakistan insisted that India include final-status discussions on Kashmir as part of any future talks.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Wanderer's Tags

I have been tagged by the great wanderer of the netherworld, cosmic voyager, Trans astral zig zagger the one and only Anand K.

5 people who top your shit list..... and why:

Indira Gandhi for The Simla Agreement.

Rajiv Gandhi for promising to take the country into the 21st Century and doing scant about it.

L.K. Advani for shamelesslesly escorting and handing over the imprisoned terrorists in exchange for the Indian airlines aircraft hijacked to Kandahar.

Indian intelligence agencies for failing to nab the big guns who have been wreaking havoc in the country from abroad

The Indian electorate for never realizing the power of their votes and capitalizing on the same.

Close brushes with death/danger:

1.On the road to Sikkim when an army truck nearly pushed us to oblivion into the Teesta river.

2. When I contracted Diphtheria as a baby and the doctor refused to accept my mother’s diagnosis. My folks had to rush me to Ernakulam Lissy Hospital in the night where they performed an emergency operation to open up the tissue that had already covered my throat.

5 Preferable modes of suicide, in descending order:

Never thought of suicide before, but I know the extreme pain of a broken hand and the excruciating moments before you arrive at the hospital. That one time I wished I were just dead. Fortunately before I could formulate an elaborate plan to kill myself the doc gave me a pain killer and suddenly I wanted to live again :)

But if I have to go meet my maker and ask him why he made this world, then I would prefer it be quick and painless like I don’t know how frankly.

5 Guilty pleasures:

Rum and Cola

Beer and Sprite (Shandy) in equal proportions

Eggs... I can eat any amount of eggs. I am an eggaholic and need at least one a day, possibly more…but the good doc has put the fear of God’s wrath for the sin of gluttony in the form of Cholesterol :(

Barbabra Cartland and Mills and Boon books ( this is my deepest darkest secret)

Black and White Malayalam Movies (can’t get enough of that and that’s why RG is in my dislike list. It is frustrating to see the abject helplessness of people in the pre liberalization days)

5 things you never want to forget:

1.To thank God every morning and before going to bed every night for being alive, having my limbs and faculties intact and the blessing of my family.

2.The Grand Family South India Trip, which left from Kerala in two buses, after my final exams in the last year of college. I don’t remember having so much fun ever.

3.My parent’s Silver Jubilee a few years back. We made our parents the blushing bride and groom by digging out their deep and dark secrets from their families, like the things they during their youth and after their engagement. First prize went for not being caught going for a movie together after the Engagement ( but this is Kerala and someone invariably knew). All the deep dark secrets were then read out at the Reception, which led to a lot of other skeletons from other couples cupboards come tumbling as some Achayans got slightly tipsy and very bold with the mike. A tipsy Achayan with a mike in hand is a disaster I learnt while ROFL.

4.My 21st birthday, my friends got together and gave me a surprise party before class complete with a cake shaped like a key.

5.My First Holy Communion

6.The day I became a Godmother to my cousin sister’s daughter

5 things you wish to forget:

1. 4th Standard: I was to recite a poem in a Poetry contest but forgot the lines on the stage. But I did remember that I had to bow after the recitation so bowed and left the stage.

2. 6th Standard: Independence Day Dance competition. My Rajasthani blouse string came undone and I bolted from the stage much to the bewilderment of the audience.

3. Soon after learning to drive I tried to reverse the car in a sharp U turn on Hosur Road. The car got stuck leading to a huge traffic pile up. Finally a tempo driver took over the car and reversed it for me. I did manage to show the finger to the KSRTC conductor who was cursing me fluently.

4. Scraped my hand while falling from a tree and didn’t tell anyone at home as I was forbidden to climb that tree close to the power lines. The wound festered leading to high fever and hospitalization, where they discovered the root of the trouble. It was an *ouch* painful experience.

5. The day my Grandfather died of lung cancer. He was a chain smoker but the best grandpa a girl could have.

5 really exotic dishes you have tried:

1. Frog legs ( at least that’s what they told it was )
2. Camel meat curry
3. Tiramisu
4. Handmade chocolate with peppermint filling( It was exotic the first time I tried it)
5. Injera and Chicken Curry Ethiopian ishtyle

5 crushes/loves in your life... in chronological order

1. I forget the priest’s name who came for Friday mass to our school. He was Goan and the entire school had a crush on him. So prayer responses went like this.

Priest: And may God bless all of you
Us: Sighhhhhhh (instead of ‘Amen’)

Priest: And may the Peace of the Lord be with you always!
Us: *droool*

2. My PT Teacher: forget his name.
3. Tom Selleck (the crush lives on to this day)
4. Harrison Ford (he still rulez)
5. Matt Le Blanc

Strangest dream you ever had:

I had a Doberman called Mika when I was 12 years old. Mika was sick and my parents didn’t tell me that she wasn’t going to live. One day my Grandad appeared in my dream and told me that he had come to take Mika. I woke up later and went to check on Mika. She was dead. The dream avoided a major heart break as I was very attached to Mika and felt she was with my Grandad in heaven. ( Mika I still love you)

5 most valued personal possessions:

1. The books gifted to me by my Grandad.
2. The Viewmaster that he bought from the US for my mom which he gave me.
3. The numerous audio and videotapes of birthdays, weddings, engagements etc that took place in the family.
4. My portfolio of creative work done during my ad agency days.
5. My grandmom’s wedding ring.

5 favorite superheroes..... and why: ( Redone as Anand wanted a 'brief' on superheroes who wear their underwear over their pants and fly and send thunderbolts from their eyes and fight all those monsters etc.)

a) Phantom: The first underwear over pant superhero, he appears from the shadows to deal with criminals and disappears after leaving his trademark, the 'skull' embedded on their skin.
b) Mandrake the Magician: He didnt exactly wear his undies over his pants but hey he was a magician and a real one at that who used his magical powers to fight crime.
c)Flash Gordon: The planet hopping superhero who flew so effortlessly across space. Fascinating.
d) Tarzan: Was raised by Apes and lived in the jungles and seemed to live a fascinating life talking to animals and getting their help to beat up the baddies.
e) Batman: The Dark Knight in Skintights :p His quest to fight crimes like the one that killed his parents was such a thrill read.

And now all of you cowering under the tables, beds and behind doors, I see you and hereby tag you to carry on the task that was entrusted to me by HRH Anand K.

Best of luck, If I tell ya, I'll have to kill ya , Ganja Turtle ,
Alexis Leon , Fleiger, Aashik , flaashgordon , Injinuity .


Tuesday, April 11, 2006


A few decades back, cops chased robbers to apprehend them. A few decades later the cops still chase robbers...but it is to get their share of the loot. I think somewhere along the line the robbers and cops got tired of the chase and decided to split the loot amicably, instead of sweating it out in lanes and by lanes of Bangalore. As a result, ‘Misappropriation’ or robbery in common lingo has become an attractive profession. With the influx of Information Technology professionals into Bangalore, Robbery has become a lucrative profession too. In fact robbery can be called an ancillary industry of the Information Technology industry.

So stop tapping on that keyboard, coding and logging bugs and try out this exciting new employment opportunity. If you are looking for a fat pay packet, Action, Adventure, and that heady Adrenalin rush, then ‘Robbery’ is the perfect job for you.

For aspirants these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will be a lot of help. The FAQs was compiled by this writer with the help of Inspector Kempanna who would like to remain anonymous.

FAQ’s for students/aspirants.

Q: What is the difference between an ordinary man and a cop?
Ans: The ordinary man is law abiding.

Q. What is the difference between a cop and a robber?
Ans: A robber does not have to wear uniform to work.

Q. What are the similarities between a robber and a cop?
Ans: Both are robbers.

Q. Is robbery a dangerous profession?
Ans: No, not if you remit your IT deductions properly.

Q. Are robbed items subject to Income Tax?!?!?!
Ans: IT stands for Illegal Takings. You have to give a percentage of the Illegal Takings to the cops. This is known as IT deduction. Otherwise they will hunt you down more efficiently than the Scotland Yard. Most robbers in jail are IT defaulters.

Q. Is there anyway I can avoid paying IT deductions?
Ans: Death and taxes are inevitable and gruesome death is inevitable if you are an Illegal Takings evader.

Q. How do I become a robber?
Ans: By informing the local police station.

Q. Is there any hierarchy among robbers?
Ans: Yes, the Sub Inspector is the top dog followed by the Constable who is Top Cat (it's complicated).

Q. Can I rob in any area?
Ans: No, you will be assigned an area by the Cops and Robbers Association. This prevents a homeowner from being robbed twice in a day.

Q. What will be my take home salary?
Ans: The sky is the limit. The more you rob the more you make minus IT deductions. Besides income from robbery is totally exempt from all other taxes.

Q: Do I have to declare all that I rob to the cops?
Ans: Yes, they will know the exact list of stolen items from the FIR filed by the robbed.

Q. What if I am not a successful robber?
Ans: Then you can go back to a regular 9 to 6 job.

Q: What is the retirement age for Robbers.
Ans: There is no retirement age for Robbers, but it better to save for a rainy day oops...I mean dry day as rainy day takings are very good.


Inspector Kempanna has helped me compile some FAQ for Ordinary Citizens too. This will help you get you your valuables back…at least part of it.

FAQ’s for ordinary citizens.

Q. What should I do after I realize I am robbed?
Ans: Take a stiff shot of whiskey. In case you don’t drink then start drinking. You will need it. Make sure the whisky is well hidden for such eventualities. The dustbin is a good place.

Q. Will that help me get back my valuables?
Ans: No, but it will help you go back to sleep.

Q. But shouldn’t I inform the cops immediately?
Ans; Don’t bother, they already know.

Q. What should I do after I wake up?
Ans: Make a Wish List of things that you would like to buy if you win the Lottery. Then file an FIR declaring the things in your Wish List as the missing items from your home.

Q. Will that FIR help me get back my valuables?
Ans: No, but the cops will be hot on the heels of the robber for not getting their share of IPods, Playstation, Lear Jets, Mercedes, Ferrari, Pleasure Boats, 20 room bungalow with swimming pool etc.

Q. But my wish list has Aiswarya Rai and Bipasha Basu too. Will it be a problem?
Ans: No, it will not be a problem, unless Aishwarya and Bipasha from the Jolly Girl Dance Bar has retired or left town.

Q. And what if Aishwarya and Bipasha from the Jolly Girl Dance Bar have retired and left town?
Ans: Then the robber will be given Third Degree to reveal where he has hidden them.

Q. Will I ever get my valuables back?
Ans: Yes, it will be returned the moment you agree to give the SI half of the ‘recovered’ valuables. Your possessions will be in his house anyways for valuation.

Q. And what if I do not want to give half of my valuables to the cops.
Ans: Rob the SI.

Q. What happens to the robber?
Ans: If he is still alive he will go to jail for robbing you and after he is released from jail will pay a monthly fine to the cops for the rest of his life for not revealing the location of the IPods, Playstation, Lear Jets, Mercedes, Ferrari, Pleasure Boats, 20 room bungalow with swimming pool, Aishwarya and Bipasha.

( This post was written after a colleague was robbed and the cops asked her to give money or part of the recovered valuables as their fees)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sitting Ducks

The IT boom saw many a cousin brother and sister from Kerala making a beeline to Bangalore, settling into careers, marrying and then having their babies. After the arrival of the baby and mom from mom’s hometown the proud parents decide that it is time they got back to the carefree days during weekends. Now this leaves poor baby out in the cold. Out of profound guilt, the new parents decide that their own kith and kin* should look after the baby so that he/she does not feel left out and grow up to become a psychopath or HR.

There fore during weekends we would get a gaggle of babies, toddlers and brats into our house for ‘safekeeping’ so that new mom and dads and the not so new mom and dads could have a night out in town. (Little did they realize that it was us that needed to be kept safe from them.)

(*‘Kin’ is defined as my mom and me.)

Here are some lessons I have learnt after years of baby-sitting, which may prove useful to new parents and masochists in search of newer and better methods of receiving punishments.

1. The smaller the baby, the easier they are to take care. The bigger they are the better if you are away on a vacation when they are visiting.

2. The age of the baby/kid in months is directly proportional to the BDA plots that your Doctor will buy from the consultation fees you pay him for treating your ulcers, fast graying hair, nervous breakdowns etc.

3. Babies prefer that the babysitter sit, while they crawl around, chewing slippers, licking shoes and gnawing the dog. ( My dogs will actually put their tails between their legs and slink out of the house when they hear my mom say on the phone "Sure we will take care of Rohan" )

4. The smallest speck on the floor is immediately spotted, minutely scrutinized and eaten. This includes ants, cockroaches and other miscellaneous life forms that are bite sized. Baby food is for woosies. No self-respecting baby will eat it. (The modern art on our walls is dried baby food by the way, in case you think we are art connoisseurs.)

5. When baby takes your finger and chews on it appreciatively it does not mean she is hungry. It means you did not wash your hands after dusting the sofa/bathing the dog/gardening etc.

6. Babies have internal radar that tells them if you are within 5 feet of their crib. So it is advised to leave the TV ‘ON’ when you need to go out of the room. The noise won’t fool them but they know that you will definitely be back after the commercials.

7. Water in the dogs bowl tastes much better than the boiled water served in sterile bottles. Ditto with the dogs food. Ditto with the dog. ( Cerelac/babyfood is for dogs)

8. Kids know immediately when they look at you that they have a sucker in their hands.

My mom said I could shave my legs (a 7 year old)
Daddy said I could use your lipstick (a 5 year old)
My mom said that I could watch Desperate Housewives (an 8 year old)

and my favorite

Brat: If you let me play in water I won’t tell Mummy that I fell down from the swing ok?”
Me: But you didn’t fall down the swing!!!
Brat: I know.

9. Answer all their questions patiently or the consequences can be unpleasant.

Brat: What are you reading?
Me: A book.
My Mom to brat: What is the chechi doing?
Brat: She is reading a book.
Mom: What book?
Brat: Aunty lying on top of uncle.

Mom’s reactions withheld but she was in my room before I could say “Charge of the Moral Brigade”. (the book “ a romantic tragedy” had the cover picture of a young couple, the girl leaning on the man’s shoulder whilst they both looked at the sunset)

10. Be appropriately dressed when kids are around.

Brat to my Dad: Why are your boobs so small?
Dad: Huh ?!?!?!.... I think I hear the phone ringing!

11. Be prepared for embarrassing questions.

Brat: What is adultery?
Me: er...where did you get that word?
Brat: We are learning Ten Commandments in Catechism Class…
Me: is some sort of sin.
Brat: Wrong!! You commit adultery if you run away with that uncle next door.
Me: %$@&*# If you know the answer then why did you ask me the question?
Brat: I was just checking.
Me: *censored*
(I pity Primary School Catechism teachers)

12. Be prepared for mental battles.

Me to mom: Arun’s mom says we should not give him E.G.G.
(spelling it out so 4 year old Arun will not catch on)
Mom: So Arun what would you like to eat?
Arun: E.G.G.

Same kid had a cold and was thus forbidden to eat Ice Cream. But he kept bugging me and finally exasperated I said: Read my mouth NO!
Arun: Read my mouth “YES!”

13. And lastly they are uncomplicated.

Me to my friend: What will happen if you put a Blue Elephant into a Red sea?
Friend 1: The elephant will become red?!
Friend 2: It will become a bluish red?
Friend 3: will become purple as blue+ red is purple.
Brat: It will drown.

Brat got it right.

( The youngest baby we babysat was a two month old infant whose mommy had to air dash to London for some examination. When she got back we had to conduct an induction programme to reacquaint her with her baby. After the induction I gave her a 60/100. My mom gave her a 10/100. Thank god for the Law of Averages she got to take the baby home!!)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

To Goa

(Warning: Very long post.This was written after this post after which a lot of people asked for a sequel)

Let me describe the second lap of our journey from Mangalore to Goa. We left Kerala, spent a day at beautiful Mangalore and the next day took the Mangalore-Goa road. This route is a very scenic route and it is advised to use blinkers for car occupants during this journey. Otherwise car occupants will do crazy things like stopping the car every half an hour or so to take pictures of the beautiful sights. It is advisable to have patient drivers like my elder brother G who will patiently pull over every time I wanted to click a snap.

By the time we reached Bhatkal we were in a holiday mood. I would describe holiday mood as that state of being when you stop looking at the watch or the milestone and just enjoy the time without worrying about the next moment. Goa was somewhere in the horizon, but we were in no hurry to reach it. After a drive of an hour or so out of Mangalore, we hit a small beach. The water was an unusual grey and blended into the grey sky. The whole scene looked surreal like we were watching an episode from Star Trek. It was with great difficulty that we tore our eyes from the sea and drove on. We stopped at Bhatkal and were lucky to witness the arrival of fishing boats and the hectic auctioneering that follows soon after the catch is loaded. A basket of mackerels was sold for Rs 50 right before my eyes!!!! That would be around 10 kilos definitely. I suddenly felt bad at the haggling my Mom did with the fish seller who comes in regularly. These guys certainly don't have it easy. I looked at the fishing boat proudly festooned with the Indian tricolor and wondered how these guys managed to make both ends meet? :(

The Bhatkal Light House is an amazing place. You drive up this steep hill on a road that is perhaps a few inches broader than a ribbon to reach the lighthouse. The view from the lighthouse is breathtaking. We stood in silence and let the view sink in. Massive waves broke against the cliff walls below and I just couldn't believe that I was in India. This as a scene straight out of English novels. The confluence of the sea and mountains throughout the route was an amazing sight! (No guys, Karnataka Tourism is not paying me to write this, though their last cheque did bounce!)

We lunched at Karwar at a restaurant cum bar !!! ( it was the only place open at 3pm) The food was decent, the place wasn't. Any minute I expected a Silk Smitha to come floating out of the silk curtains and garish light festooned doorway. My mom and me were as out of place as two Nuns in a tattoo parlor. While G tried to stifle his laughter at our situation, M looked around with exaggerated interest and asked the Manager when the floorshow would start. The Manager suitably pleased at the thought of a prospective customer informed M that 'Belita' and her troupe would perform from 6 pm onwards. M put on another overly exaggerated look of disappointment and said mournfully that he would not be able to witness the spectacular floorshow as he had to drive to Goa. He then proceeded to do what he always does at restaurants. He asked the Manager if they served 'Duck'!

The poor manager who looked like a MacMohan clone ( of Samba fame in Sholay) was flummoxed. He went into the kitchen to check with the cook. By now G was chuckling away, while my Mom looked very disapproving and Dad tried hard to hide his smile behind the Menu card. My mom did what she usually does when M takes off on his pranks. She took the menu and ordered lunch from another waiter. MacMohan came back saying that they did not have “duck' but they had chicken. Again M put on that look of exaggerated disappointment and he sighed loudly and asked if they had ‘goose’? MacMohan went into a tizzy again and went to check the same with the cook. By this time I was laughing uncontrollably, my mom was looking daggers at M and M was reading the menu rather too gravely.

Drinking is a strict no-no while driving so both brothers had to watch Dad and me gulp down chilled beer while they had to make do with Musambi Juice. MacMohan looked very disapproving now. Two young guys and drinking Musambi juice??? I am sure he must have thought that he had seen everything he had to see in this trade. The waiter bought in my Chicken Biryani and M asked the waiter innocently if the meat was crow meat or chicken meat? The waiter was taken aback, and then recovering his composure replied with all sincerity that it was indeed chicken. He then proceeded to explain in all innocence that the restaurant did not serve crow. M nodded sagely and said gravely that he understood how difficult it was to catch crows!

We limbered into Goa late in the evening and were promptly stopped by the cops. We were waved behind a row of cars that were stopped similarly. A sleepy cop who perhaps did not see G clearly under the Sodium Vapor lamp wanted to know why he wasn't wearing a Khaki shirt!!! This time it was M's turn to hoot with laughter as G explained patiently that this was a private car and he wasn't a taxi driver. The cop noticed the white board and sheepishly waved us on. I guess it was time for the poor cop to go home and have his Feni.

We met surprisingly friendly cops in Goa. Imagine this scene. My brother and friend driving back at 7 pm to the resort after a day of scuba diving. A cop stops them and asks them where they were heading. When they disclosed that they were going back to the resort, the cop looked surprised and remarked that 7 'o' clock was party time and not a decent hour to be going back to the room!!! He then waved them on after advising them on the most happening nightclubs in town. He left a big impression on the guys with his warm and friendly nature.

The beaches of Goa were nice and it was cloudy throughout our stay, which made the weather really pleasant. However the waters smelled of fuel from the ever-present boats. We spent mornings on the recliners that the beach shacks hire out. On the last day we saw the shameful sight of a group of Saffron turbaned Sikhs who terrorized and chased every bikini clad foreigner out of the waters till somebody called the cops.

The whole industry is geared towards foreigners and getting a South Indian meal is difficult unless you go to Panaji’. I survived on Subs throughout the holiday and lost hell of a lot of weight by the time we got back. The food at the resort was heavily into meat. On our way back we stopped at a Kamat hotel and had rice and sambhar like starving hordes. :)

If you are going to Goa take the Bangalore, Mangalore, Goa route. It is a whole package of experiences.